Post-recession dental economy measured

An annual health care spending report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services suggests the dental economy is growing; however, the amount spent by consumers remains flat, according to an ADA analysis.

While the dental economy grew by three percent to $108.4 billion in 2011 from $105.3 billion in 2010, the ADA Health Policy Resources Center indicates that the average amount a person spends on dental care has flattened and has not recovered since the recession.

Per capita dental spending adjusted for annual inflation remained steady at around $350 since 2008. This contrasts with a 3.9 percent annual growth in "real" or adjusted per capita dental expenditures from 1990 through 2002 and the tapering off 1.8 percent annual growth 2002-2008. The government report says although consumer out-of-pocket spending increased from 2008 to 2011, dental spending as a share of total personal health care spending declined from 5.1 percent to 4.8 percent over the same period.

Data for the years 2012 and 2013 will provide important indications of the state of the U.S. health system as the major insurance expansions associated with the Affordable Care Act grow nearer on the horizon, according to the report.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects to issue a report this summer projecting dental and other health expenditures through 2022.

Source: American Dental Association